Thailand's largestexhibitor Major Cineplex is moving into distribution with the acquisition ofindependent Thai distributor Nontanund Entertainment.

Thelong-expected move, which Major Cineplex announced to the Thai stock exchangeon Wednesday, follows the recent announcement that the cinema chain is mergingwith Thailand'ssecond largest exhibitor EGV Entertainment.

Major Cineplex plans to invest up to $2m (80m baht) inNontanund which will more than double its slate to around 40-50 theatricaltitles a year and launch a video operation.

The company started to ramp up acquisitions at this year'sCannes film market where it bought Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11,Clint Eastwood's upcoming Million Dollar Baby and Korean action film Arahanamong other titles.

Former head of Asian operations for Village Roadshow, GeraldDibbayawan, has been appointed CEO of Nontanund and is overseeing acquisitionswith chairman and former owner Anon Asvanund. Former Golden Harvest executiveTeerachai Triwongwaranat, who was recently appointed chief cinema officer atMajor Cineplex, will also join the buying team.

Followingits merger with EGV, Major Cineplex will operate 250 screens and hold a 70%share of the Thai cinema market.